This brilliant adventure includes most of Switzerland’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites, combining well-known sites with spectacular places of great natural and cultural interest that are slightly off the beaten path. Highlights include the Convent of Saint Gall with Switzerland’s oldest library, scenic “Heidiland,” the Tectonic Arena Sardona, a boat trip on the scenic Walensee, and an excursion into Swiss National Park. You’ll also experience a ride on the Bernina Express from St. Moritz to Tirano, the incredible castle ruins of Bellinzona, pretty subtropical Lugano with its picturesque lake, Berne’s Old City, the vineyard terraces at Lavaux with included wine tasting, the beautiful Entlebuch Biosphere Reserve, and so much more. At every site you will have an expert Local Guide explaining the destination’s unique qualities. It’s a true experience that will stay in your memories forever.
Day #1 Arrive in Zürich, Switzerland. Check into your Zürich hotel, then the rest of the day is free to explore this exciting city. Tonight, meet your Tour Director and fellow travelers.
Day #2 Zürich–St. Gallen. Travel to St. Gallen, where guided sightseeing shows off the city’s main highlights and visits the baroque Convent of Saint Gall with its magnificent cathedral and rich medieval library, the oldest library in Switzerland. (B)
Day #3 St. Gallen–Tectonic Arena Sardona–St. Moritz. Pass through scenic “Heidiland” today and discover the Swiss Tectonic Arena Sardona, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and dramatic demonstration of mountain building through continental collision. Included boat trip on scenic Walensee. (B)
Day #4 St. Moritz. Excursion to Swiss National Park & Mmüstair. Today, an excursion into Swiss National Park reveals picture-perfect landscapes and pristine beauty. Then, on to the quaint border village of Müstair. Here, join an included guided tour of the Cloister of St. John, an ancient Benedictine monastery known for its exceptional collection of Carolingian art. (B)
Day #5 St. Moritz–Bernina Express Train to Tirano, Italy–Bellinzona, Switzerland. All aboard the Bernina Express train to travel along the UNESCO World Heritage Via Albula/Bernina route through scenic alpine terrain from St. Moritz to Tirano. Then, continue by motorcoach to lovely Bellinzona, skirting the shores of stunning Lake Como. (B)
Day #6 Bellinzona. Excursion to Lugano & Monte San Giorgio. In Bellinzona, join the included sightseeing tour of the town center and Castelgrande, and peek behind its historic walls to discover the reason for these mighty fortifications. The town once represented the most important defensive line between the strategic Gotthard Pass and Lombardy. Take a stroll in lakeside Lugano, then, an included excursion to explore fascinating Monte San Giorgio, site of fine fossil records of marine life from the mid-Triassic period. Visit the Fossil Museum and enjoy time at leisure. (B)
Day #7 Bellinzona–Lucerne–Berne. Across the Gotthard massif and along the Lake of the Four Cantons. Stop in Lucerne for a visit including the wooden covered bridge. Continue to Berne. (B)
Day #8 Berne. Excursion to La Chaux-de-Fonds/Le Locle. This morning, discover the rich history of Berne, the Swiss capital, as you stroll with a Local Guide through medieval alleys and along the Old City’s characteristic covered arcades. This afternoon, travel to La Chaux-de-Fonds and Le Locle for insight into what life was like here in the 19th century when the area blossomed as a center for watch-making. Return to Berne. (B)
Day #9 Berne–Gruyére. Excursion to Lavaux. Drive south today and visit the medieval hilltop castle of Gruyére. Continue toward Lake Leman, then relax and watch the world of the Lavaux glide by on a pleasure ride through the vineyards. Marvel at the views of the terraced vineyards, lake, and mountains beyond. Then, stop at one of the best-known wine cellars for a wine-tasting session. (B)
Day #10 Berne. Excursion to Jungfrau. The Jungfrau/Aletsch region of the Swiss Alps offers spectacular landscapes and a wide range of habitats—from Mediterranean-style steppe to bare rock-top mountains, all in harmonious balance with the surrounding cultural landscape. See it all on the included ride on the Jungfraubahn to the “Top of Europe.” Before returning to Berne, stop in Interlaken. (B)
Day #11 Berne–Entlebuch Biosphere Reserve–Zürich. No region in the heart of Switzerland can match the Canton of Lucerne for natural treasures. No surprise, then, that UNESCO considers it a model region for sustainable development. This mystical world promises tranquility, inspiration, and relaxation. Pristine moorland, idyllic alpine meadows, and the majestic Schrattenfluh with its extraordinary rock formations promise memorable views and unforgettable experiences. Enjoy an included cable-car ride from Sörenberg to Rothorn, highest peak in the Canton of Lucerne, then return to Zürich. (B)
Day #12 Zürich. Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning. (B)